Mic's Emily Singer Detects Alleged Russian Spy in Oval Office

The FBI has accused Maria Butina of acting as an unregistered Russian agent

Federal prosecutors in Washington revealed Monday that they have arrested a 29-year-old woman and accused her of acting as a covert agent inside the United States on behalf of a senior Kremlin official.

The Russian gun activist who was arrested in Washington, DC is not an agent of the Kremlin and the Department of Justice (DOJ) is misusing the law to charge her as such, the attorney for Maria Butina said. Butina is a former assistant of Alexander Torshin - a top official at Russia's central bank, close ally of Putin, and alleged friend of the Russian mob.

An ally of Russian leader Putin, Torshin is now a senior official with Russia's central bank and a former top Russian lawmaker.

The announcement of Butina's arrest comes three days after 12 Russian intelligence operatives were indicted by a USA grand jury for hacking Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic Party.

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According to the complaint, Butina attempted to establish "unofficial lines of communications with USA politicians and political organizations" as part of a plan to "identify and exploit" connections that could be used to "advance the interests of the Russian Federation".

Democrats on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee investigating any ties between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation previously highlighted Butina as a person of interest and sought permission from the committee's Republican leadership to bring her in for questioning.

A federal judge in Washington ordered her jailed until a hearing set for Wednesday, according to a statement from the Justice Department and Jessie Liu, the United States attorney for the District of Columbia.

The charge was brought by the US Attorney for the District of Columbia and do not appear to stem from Mr Mueller's investigation. He said Trump Jr.

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Butina - who founded a gun rights group called the Right to Bear Arms in Moscow - has previously said her outreach to American political operatives was purely out of a shared passion for firearms.

"Your political star has risen in the sky", the official told Butina, according to the Washington Post. Another communication said that the Russian official was handpicking attendees as, Butina wrote, "they are coming to establish a back channel of communication". "The whole world hates us. and yet they make money with us", Trump said. The NRA did not immediately return a request for comment. Her lawyer confirmed to the Post that she had recently earned a master's degree from American University.

Butina also says she met with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at his presidential campaign launch event in 2015, according to a report by Mother Jones magazine earlier this year.

The arrest of Butina is the most dramatic development yet in the government's investigation of the NRA's relationship with Russian Federation.

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Sen. Ron Wyden, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, responded to the indictment Monday afternoon by sending a letter to the NRA questioning its relationship with Russian nationals. According to her student profile, Butina focused on "Global Security" for the past two years.

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